Working from home has never been a more popular idea, with 80-90% of American’s saying they’d like to telecommute at least part-time. The idea of working from home is appealing, particularly having more flexibility in your work/life balance. You can work when you’re at your best, and rest when you’re not and you’ll be more productive than you would have been in the office.
But there is a downside to remote working. While introverts might rejoice in knowing that their social contact will be extremely limited, the extroverts might feel the need for more human contact. The truth is, working from home can be isolating and that can have a negative impact on mental health and wellbeing.
If you’re feeling a little lonely as the thought of another month of remote working looms ahead of you, here’s a list of tips that can help you feel more connected with work, the community, and life, in general.
Don’t Work From Home (All the Time)
The world is becoming increasingly remote work friendly, with free wifi being offered by cafes, libraries, and hotels around the world. No matter where you are, the chances are you can find a hotspot somewhere nearby and set yourself up to work with others. This gives you the advantage of being around other people, but you’re not going to have a queue of people at your desk asking you to diagnose their Grandma’s laptop issues. Hopefully.
Rent a Co-Working Space
Your company may be willing to pay you a stipend, so you can rent a desk at a co-working space. That usually involves renting a desk in an open plan office space, so you get to enjoy some banter whilst still staying focused on your task. Even if you don’t want to use this option full-time there may be opportunities to hire a desk on a weekly or even daily basis nearby.
Find Other Home Workers
The chances are you aren’t the only person who works from home in your community. Ask around, you may have a friend or neighbor who also works from home who wouldn’t mind some company every now and then. Either invite them to work at yours, or you go and work with them.
Get Out in the Day
If you’ve got the flexibility to set your working hours, try and take a break during the day and get out and about. That could be a trip to the gym, heading out to grab a sandwich from a nearby shop or volunteering your time for a few hours to a worthy cause. Give yourself a change of scenery and let your eyes recover from all that intensive screen time.
Find Your People
It’s never been easier to find other people who share your weird. No matter what you’re into, there are Facebook groups, sub-Reddits, forums, and Twitter feeds where you can connect with like-minded individuals. Whether you’re a true-crime buff, a gamer or a fitness fiend there will be a group out there you can connect with. Yes, we are telling you to spend more time on social media. You’re welcome.
Get a Pet
We don’t mean putting seed on the windowsill in the hope that Bob the pigeon will fly by today. We’re more talking about something a little more sociable. A dog can be a great companion and a reason to get up and get fresh air a couple of times a day. Cats are company too, although they do like to sit on the keyboard or anything else that is taking your attention away from stroking them; there are strategies to keep them at bay.
Events & Conferences
If there are big events in your industry, see if you can get to them. Not only will you learn things and keep your skills relevant, but you’ll also refill your people-meter. You might even meet other homeworkers that you can add to your Skype contact list.
Get Social with Work
A good remote team leader should be all over team bonding and communication. While it’s great to chat with your colleagues about work, you need opportunities to just shoot the breeze, too. If you don’t have them already, then try and make them. Suggest a #watercooler Slack channel or a corporate team in an online game. Collaborate with colleagues to come up with a Spotify playlist that you can all share.
If you find yourself only responding in text, whether it’s an IM, email, or your helpdesk software, then make opportunities for face to face chats as well. Skype, Zoom, and other video conferencing software makes looking someone in the eye possible, no matter where in the world they are.
Choose the Right Role
Great remote employers know the value of communication for digital nomads. If you’re feeling lonely in your role, you have to wonder if your current employers are really cut out to nurture talent like yours. If you suspect they aren’t, then get in touch today. We work from home too, so we’d welcome the contact!